Storify for Transmedia Storytelling
November 12, 2013
Storify for Transmedia Storytelling
Score 7 out of 10
- Storify takes disparate elements from across social sites and weaves them into one story that you're interested in telling. Especially using Twitter, which was the main source of the content in my Storify stories, individual tweets can get lost in the storm. Storify was a great way to clear the clutter away from what you want to say.
- There are several social tools woven in with Storify that make sharing and receiving feedback easy. For example, people can easily comment on your Storify story through Facebook integrated comments and your Storify stories can be embedded across several social sites. The point is to get your story out there so that connection is vital.
- Inputing different story elements into Storify is fairly easy. There are built-in sites that can be searched and the level of detail of that searching is based on the source. So for Twitter, you could search by keyword, user, including @replies or not, etc. Because these are your story elements, it's essential that this search tool is robust.
- One insider tip if you're trying to embed your Storify story onto Tumblr. The embed code can easily be pasted into the Tumblr HTML format, but if you try to preview your post it might look like nothing is there. Even once you post it onto Tumblr, there will only be a small box in your (and your followers') feed. But check your Tumblr blog and it's there. My trick was always to include a line of text under the code that identified that this was a Storify story and that you have to click on it to see it. Though this is also a negative of the tool, that embedding on Tumblr is possible. Hopefully they work on embedding on that particular site, though...I sent them some feedback about it too as it's not quite there.
- As a Storify story is dependent on the social elements going into it, and those social elements are moving at the speed of life, it can sometimes be difficult to go far enough back into the past to find the elements you're looking for. I used probably the biggest culprit, Twitter, so I would try to build my story within the couple of days after an event happened. Otherwise, you'll be scrolling endlessly to find your tweets and sometimes, if too far back, Storify would simply stop loading content. Though the search function did have many different features, a timespan search function would probably be very useful.
- Though I mentioned it as an insider tip in the strengths section - that Tumblr embedding was possible - most of my experience embedding Storify stories on Tumblr was not smooth. At first I didn't think it worked at all and sent several emails to Storify support to figure out if it was user error or on their end. In the end, they told me it might be a browser issue on my end which may be the case but seemed somewhat unlikely given that I could see Storify stories everywhere else. So if you're embedding a Storify story on Tumblr, it will show up on your Tumblr blog but won't show up in your (or your followers') feed - where people are looking at your content 90% of the time. My fix was to include a line of text that said that it was a Storify story and you must click on it to see it, but I believe Storify needs to work on this issue.
- Understanding the need for sites to grow their base of members, one thing I thought was odd about Storify was that readers of your stories had to log in if they wanted to like or comment on your stories. I saw quite a few users that had never built a story themselves but had created profiles just to follow other people's stories. With integrated Facebook comments, you'd think it would be easy to allow anyone to log in and comment without becoming a member, but that didn't seem to be the case. Perhaps I'm wrong and I only observed people on Storify commenting, but the empty profiles seem indicative of not being able to read and interact on the site without joining and that seems limiting.
- As far as the Storify stories themselves, prepare yourself for endless scrolling. Especially if the story gets embedded, it then gets whittled down to a narrow box so event tweets take up a few lines. And if your story happens to be very long, readers may need to click to continue to see the rest of your story. I feel like you'll start to lose readers. There's just the one format, and people are used to scrolling but there may be a limit to how much Storify users want to share for this reason, either within a story or because the Storify is taking up the entire window of their blog (as examples).
- My Storify stories ran the gamut of thousands of readers to a few dozen. That was on me as far as how engaging the content was/interest in the topic I came up with, probably the length of the Storify stories as well, and how much my stories were shared by others. Those reader numbers were not unique by the way, and unfortunately counted when I looked at my own story (even though I was logged in and they could tell it was me).
- My objectives were to let people in on a narrative story they may have missed and to cement a passing social conversation into something more long-lasting. These Storify stories are now a part of a Tumblr blog and thus can be more easily accessed. Those aren't hard and fast numbers, but Storify helped me reach my objectives nonetheless.
- As somewhat of a disclaimer, my use of Storify was not conducted for a client but as a social media experiment so I could interact with some digital transmedia storytelling. Storify was simply one piece of an integrated online persona. That being said, it was easy to track how many people had seen my Storify stories to see which were the most popular.
My original use of Storify was for a specific purpose, transmedia storytelling, but now that I've seen the functionality of the site and realize how easy it is to tell a story from seemingly disparate social elements, I will most likely use it for storytelling within my current job. As a person in a position of needing to create a good stream of inspiration for my team, share timely news and trends, present information in a more interesting way, and share innovative products with my agency, I can see many different uses for Storify. I'll have to get creative with those uses, though, because I don't see another strong specific need for the use of Storify. An interesting tool that I'd love to see other people using differently.
I would recommend Storify if a colleague were looking for an interesting way to share a story, tie some social elements together, or wants an interesting social tool to look into. Storify could be good as a type of newsletter or to share a social conversation between a group. For all the strengths and weaknesses shared, Storify is simple to use and free. Though it still has some rough edges when it comes to sharing and embedding the content, as well as building stories from older social elements, Storify does make sense of social noise and that is well worth the time it takes to build a story.